17 Asian Pop Groups You Should Be Stanning Beyond BTS
If you've got BTS on repeat like we all do and you're now looking for a new group to be obsessed with, look no more. This post has got you.
Note: We're all passionate about our fave groups; however, groups like Twice and NCT are on almost every K-pop recommendation list and are already well known by K-pop fans. For that reason, while you *will* find bigger groups here, this post will also spotlight groups that are almost never mentioned but deserve to be! If you don't see your fave, that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be here; if we tried listing every group that deserves to be in this post, we'd end up listing the whole industry 💀. Now, let's get this going!
1. The Boyz debuted in 2017 but gained traction in 2020 through their participation in the reality television competition Road to Kingdom, which saw them compete against six other underrated boy groups and win first place! They are deft at coming up with elaborate stages and concepts, a skill demonstrated through RTK, for which they were admired by their fellow contestants.
2. Oneus (pronounced One-us) is adept at pulling off a range of different sounds and concepts, from royalty and vampires to traditional Korean culture. They're rather shyer and quieter than most boy groups, which makes them more endearing, but don't let that fool you — they sure know how to work a stage! Member Seoho, main vocalist, is notable for his extraordinarily strong and stable voice, while Hwanwoong, main dancer, might just be one of the best dancers to come out of fourth-gen boy groups in recent times!
3. Dreamcatcher is especially unique from other girl groups for their dark horror and fantasy concepts and signature heavy-rock and metal sound! Their deviation from the typical pop sound is considered risky for a girl group; not only are they admired by fans for this, but they were also critically acclaimed for pulling it off so naturally! Dare to be different, as they say. If you're tired of hearing songs that all sound the same, give Dreamcatcher a try — they'll make you want to pretend you're in Game of Thrones, all dark and dramatic.
4. Ateez is known for their powerful sound and dramatic choreo (their songs will have you feeling like you can rule the world). They're incredibly popular with international fans and were named Worldwide Fans' Choice two years in a row at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. In 2020, they were the 5th-most-tweeted-about musician in the US and the 10th-most-tweeted-about K-pop group worldwide. Talk about impressive 😱! Member Jongho, main vocalist, is, like Oneus's Seoho, notable for his exceptional high notes.
5. Astro stands out for their incredibly detailed and difficult choreo — which, of course, they manage to make look effortless, but you realize just how difficult it is once you try it yourself! Many of their songs are fun, lighthearted, and a little nostalgic, with a "long drive in the summer" kind of feeling. Their music video for "All Night" garnered attention from audiences for quite possibly being the prettiest, most aesthetic music video in K-pop!
6. Perfume is a J-pop girl group that debuted in 2002 but gained national fame six years later with their 2008 single, "Polyrhythm," which was not only chosen as the theme for a recycling campaign by Japan's biggest television channel but also featured in Pixar's Cars 2! Since then, they have emerged as one of the most successful acts in Japan, selling over 5 million records. In 2019, they performed at Coachella, becoming the first J-pop group ever to perform at the festival.
7. Stray Kids' boyish image and songs, many of which speak about empowerment and the struggles of youth in society, are reminiscent of BTS' early days. In a funny twist, two of the members, Chan and Felix, are both from Sydney, Australia! What are the chances? Many of their members are fluent in English and involved in their own songwriting, resulting in the lyrics of their English versions of Korean songs sounding natural and unstilted, attracting a wider international audience.
8. ONF (pronounced On and Off) debuted in 2017 but, similar to The Boyz, 2020 marked a turning point for them after they appeared in Road to Kingdom, competing alongside The Boyz and Oneus, and winning second place! They were highly admired by their fellow competitors for their unique song rearrangements and striking performances — during the partner-up episode, every group said they wanted to work with ONF!
9. WayV is a C-pop group that's actually part of NCT, which is divided into multiple subunits! They're NCT's first overseas subunit based in China. Most of their songs have a powerful and intense sound and concept, and their music videos are slick and well produced, making them a treat for the eyes! A practice also done by the rest of NCT, WayV often releases English versions of their songs, resulting in a wider international fanbase.
10. Mamamoo is recognized in the industry for their powerhouse vocals and live-singing skills. They're also a refreshing deviation from the conventionally soft, cute-sounding vocals and style in girl groups, opting for a bolder, more mature sound and image and using their voices with full force. Contrary to most K-pop groups, they are considerably smaller.
11. Verivery's songs and music videos are innovative and imaginative, usually telling an interesting, otherworldly story that keeps your eyes glued to the screen to figure out what's happening. In 2020, they participated in Road to Kingdom alongside Oneus and The Boyz, and showed off some impressive performances like this one, which was filmed all in one take!
12. AKB48 is a J-pop group that's the fifth-bestselling girl group worldwide as well as the only Japanese group on that list, which, needless to say, is a phenomenal feat! They are truly unlike any group in this article: They have their own theater in which they perform daily so fans can always see them, and their own dating simulation game (LOL), for which they set a Guinness World Record! New members join every year while older members "graduate"; they currently have almost one hundred members!
13. TXT is particularly well known for being the first boy group to debut under Big Hit Music in six years after BTS' debut in 2013. Yes, they are BTS' direct juniors, so you can imagine the pressure! However, they did not remain in BTS' shadow and carved a niche for themselves with a magical, dreamlike sound not usually heard in K-pop, breathy vocals, and experimental music. They have an ongoing concept that talks about the pains of growing up, losing yourself, and friendship, which resonates with many.
14. Uverworld is a J-rock group that wasted no time in blowing everyone away because their debut song was chosen as the second opening theme for the globally popular anime Bleach! That's a major accomplishment for a debut. And they didn't stop there. If you're looking for catchy melodies and energetic but emotionally provoking music that makes you feel like you're on top of the world, look no more; Uverworld's got you.
15. Everglow made quite a splash right off the bat with their hard-hitting debut song! Their music is full of foot-tapping beats and earworm choruses, and their music videos are nice and polished, making them a promising group to watch out for, and one that's enjoyable to stan. They also have strong stage presence, with fierce expressions and confident moves.
16. SF9 debuted in 2016 but experienced a major breakthrough in 2020 with the single "Good Guy," which broke multiple sales, charts, and music video records, and got them their first-ever music-show win and awards-show nomination at the Melon Music Awards, both after four years. SF9 is also competing in Kingdom, alongside Stray Kids and The Boyz!
17. Loona gained traction among audiences with the 2019 release of "Butterfly," the music video of which was shot across five countries from three continents and showcased girls of different races and cultures with a message of empowerment — the inclusivity was appreciated by fans. They often release English versions of their songs, indicating an intention to enter the US market.
Are you fans of any of the groups in this post? We can't fit every group or this post would never end, so let me know in the comments who else you think we should stan!
Note: This article previously listed GFriend, who disbanded right before this was published. We decided to remove them to reflect active groups only.